Work Smart, Not Hard

By Mel Sim

5 easy rules for a more productive working year in 2020.

The way to career success is the amount of hours you put in, right?

Not necessarily. Working more hours doesn’t guarantee you that promotion, unfortunately. On the contrary, when you work too many hours, your productivity actually takes a dip.

According to a study by Stanford University, your productivity falls after working more than 50 hours a week and takes a straight dive down if it is more than 55 hours a week. So even if you put in 80 hours a week, it doesn’t mean you are producing better work.

But you know what can equate to success? Being smart about work. More precisely, being effective. Because when you are effective, you are maximizing the amount of work hours you have to produce good results.

How do you maximise what seems like not enough time to get things done? Try these five easy ways.

#1 Focus on what’s important
You have an important project to finish and naturally, you have a million and one things to do to get it done well. Where do you start? By prioritizing. You have a list with everything that needs to be done every day but what you should be doing instead is starting your list with three to five most important tasks for the day. Go from critical to less critical. When you tick these off, you can go back to the other not so important stuff. This way you are not spending time multitasking (we all know that’s not great for productivity) and using up your energy for things that are not important.

#2 Get things done in the morning
Those three to five absolutely must-do tasks? Tackle them first thing in the morning. This is because you are more energetic and raring to go in the morning. If you put it off for later, you may be too distracted by other things, run out of time or feel tired come mid-day to even want to begin that list. Get them out of the way so you can focus on other things.

#3 Communicate
The next time you need an answer or a confirmation from your boss/colleague/client, do this: Pick up the phone and talk directly to the person. It saves time, time that you would have used to wait for a reply via email.

#4 Don’t aim for perfection the first time round
Need to write a report? Jot down every single idea you have first. Then only go through and improvise. By doing this, you aren’t wasting time trying to craft the perfect report (there’s no such thing, by the way) and hey, half the battle is won because you’ve already started, which is the hardest thing to do in this situation. And besides, getting that gear started in your brain may make it easier for you to edit your own work later.

#5 Get ready for work the night before
You read that right – you can and should get ready for work the night before. So pack your lunch and keep it in the fridge. Get your clothes ready for tomorrow. Pack your office bag. Whatever you need to get to work the next day. It may seem like a silly thing to do the night before but by getting ready for work well ahead of time, you don’t have to spend a stressful morning trying to get things done and packed.

Photo by Annie Spratt on Unsplash

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